The Rookie of the Year race this year was as close as can be in both leagues. In the National League it could have gone four ways and in the American League I think it was totally up for grabs. Marlins’ outfielder, Chris Coglan, took the award in the NL and in the AL, it was A’s closer Andrew Bailey bringing home the award.
Let’s begin with the AL and here is how my ballot would have gone:
First place vote: Andrew Bailey
Second: Rick Porcello
Third: Elvis Andrus
When I initially thought AL ROTY, my first instinct was Porcello, who was solid for most of the season. Although by the end of the year, he only had the fourth best ERA in his starting rotation (behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Jarrod Washburn) and it was 3.96. His strikeout numbers weren’t that great and he had a bad June and July. He is a groundball pitcher who will have success in this league but he won’t overpower anybody. This isn’t a knock on him, but expect a Derek Lowe type career from him.
And I see better things coming for both Elvis Andrus and Andrew Bailey. The reason I have Andrus third is because, with a .267 average, I’m not sure how much love you’re going to get. However he does have a solid glove and huge upside, the kid is only 21.
But Bailey flew under the radar all throughout the season and even at the end of the season, the casual fan still probably couldn’t tell you he was tearing it up in Oakland. The A’s weren’t all too great this year and they played in the western time zone so it makes a little sense if you didn’t know who the kid was. But the kid is electric. To go along with his 1.84 ERA, he struck out 91 batters in 83.1 innings. He was 26 for 30 in save oppurtunities and he didn’t get his first two saves until May and didn’t blow any saves after June 16. Talk about finding his place. It wasn’t that long ago that another A’s closer won ROTY as well, when Huston Street did it in 2005.
For the NL, it was a tough one and it really could have gone either way but here’s what I would have put down:
First: JA Happ
Second: Chris Coghlan
Third: Tommy Hanson
It was so close that I think I may have needed some hometown bias in this one. But really, Happ lead the Phillies starters in ERA, on a staff that includes a few All Star caliber pitchers. He threw two complete game shutouts, as a rookie, in the National League. He was the most reliable Phillies starter this season and always kept the team in the game. He knows how to pitch and he disguises his pitches well and he sure has a rotation spot locked up for next season.
But Coghlan won the award, who was equally as impressive this year, he barely beat out happ by 11 votes. He really came into his own in the second half this year after being called up mid-season. He is a true leadoff hitter as he was mentioned in many sentences this season with Hall of Famers and All Stars today regarding his hit totals. He drives the ball to all fields and takes a decent approach at the plate. He’s the tablesetter that Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu needed. Congrats to him for winning the award.
Althought however, Tommy Hanson and Andrew McCutchen fell farther back than I thought they would. I thought that this race was going to be a lot closer. Tommy Hanson has some dirty stuff and if he can avoid injury will post huge strikeout numbers in his career. The Braves are sure to have one of the best rotations in the league next year and Hanson will be a big part of that. Then there’s McCutchen who is a five tool player that, at the rate the Pirates are at now, will trade him for more three decent-but-nothing-special Double-A players sometime in the next few years. Kidding of course. The Buccos know they need to hang on to this kid if they ever want to be good in the next twenty years.
I’m expecting all four of these guys to have great careers.
The AL Cy Young announcement is tomorrow, I’m expecting it to be Zack Greinke. No one else is really too close. Then the Manager of the Year announcement is on Wednesday. Jim Tracy is going to run away with the NL while Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire are my co-winners in the AL.
Season Preview: Colorado Rockies
Projected MLB Rank: 13th — NL Rank: 8th — NL West Rank: 4th — Record: (85-77)
The Colorado Rockies were the story of 2007. They ran through September and the playoffs until they hit the wall in the World Series, also known as the Boston Red Sox. One year later, October 2008, they were sitting at home and watching eight other teams. They had harnessed a 74-88 record. Only four other NL teams did worse last year.
This season, the Rockies will attempt to recreate the two month magic they generated at the end of the 2007 season. This time, they need that magic for seven months.
This offense is one of the most potent in the league, even after trading away keystone Matt Holliday. Garrett Atkins, Brad Hawpe, and veteran Todd Helton will be looked to to make up for that production. Helton had a very down year last year. Last year he played only half a season and still only hit 7 homeruns and drove in 29 RBIs. Even more concerning is the .264 average he posted in those games. Helton had hit for over .300 for the ten seasons before. The lifetime .328 hitter is 35 years old, but I do believe he can rebound from a low 2008 and regain his status as a consistent hitter.
Atkins, who had been rumored to be traded this offseason, seems to be staying in Denver for his contract year. He will post big production numbers and expect him to be traded if the Rockies are out of the race early. Brad Hawpe is a great ballplayer. He has the potential to hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs now that Holliday isn’t there to take the production. He also has a cannon from rightfield.
Shortstop Troy Toluwitzki should continue to tear it up as he did last year at the end of the season as he hit .327 in the second half. Chris Iannetta did a great job in the WBC and should continue his rampage at Coors Field. In only 333 at bats last season, he hit 18 homeruns and drove in 65 RBIs.
Seth Smith, is a great hitter but has yet to show it at the major league level. Once he starts getting consistent time in Colorado, he will become a .300 hitter (I saw this kid hit for the cycle when he was with AAA Colorado Springs). There is a lot of competition for the starting centerfield spot. Ryan Spilborghs leads the way as he batted .313 in 89 games last season. Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez are also in the competition for the job, but I expect it to go to Spilborghs.
The pitching staff last season had a rough one. They had the second worst ERA in the NL (4.77) and gave up the third most runs per game (5.07). Losing Jeff Francis certainly hurts so now it starts off with Aaron Cook. The righty won 16 games last season with a 3.96 ERA. He’s a great pitcher for the thin Colorado air because he’s a sinkerballer, so expect more success from Cook in Colorado. Ubaldo Jimenez, who is the projected number two, is dirty. His stuff is phenomenal but he has control problems as he walked 103 batters last season. He had a good BAA last season (.245) so look for him to develop into a possible all star if he can get off to a good start.
Jason Marquis is the projected number three, coming over from the Cubs where he was the fifth starter. He’ll win you ballgames, but he won’t put up huge strikeout numbers and he will let guys get on base. Jorge De La Rosa’s stats don’t look too pretty last season but don’t be decieved. In the second half, he posted a 3.08 ERA with about a strikeout per inning. 23-year old Franklin Morales should compete for the last rotation spot along with Greg Smith and Jason Hirsh.
The bullpen is underrated. Manny Corpas and Huston Street are duking it out for the closer role. Corpas’ shaky 2008 might make him the eigth inning man and the experienced Street would get the closer role. Taylor Buchholz had a fine season last year posting a 2.17 ERA in 63 games. Jason Grilli had a great strikeout rate last season while compiling a 3.00 ERA. Alan Embree and Ryan Speier will also get a bunch of appearances out of the bullpen.
This is probably my biggest stretch of a prediction having the Rockies do 11 games better than they did last year. Especially finishing fourth in the division. I have the NL West as a strong division this year (another bold prediction). This division did get better though. I hear everyone that’s saying .500 could win the division, but I don’t feel like that will be the case this season with the west. It’s improving, and so are the Rockies with it.